LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/So
also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands
Saint Matthew 17/10-13/ "And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist."
Bible Quotation For Today/We
did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might
always remain with you
Letter to the Galatians 02/01-07: "Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) those leaders contributed nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised."
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March
President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran/Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/March 03/15
Complete text of Netanyahu's address to Congress/Agencies/March 03/15
A scenario Netanyahu hasn’t spelled out: One Iranian nuke could obliterate Israel’s heartland/DEBKAfile/March 03/15
Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us/Quin Hillyer/March 03/15/National Review
Assyrians: Remembering 'The Year of the Sword'/By Lela Gilbert/March 03/15
Is it jihad or sexual exploitation/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 03/15
Lebanese Related News published on
Israel warns against Hezbollah attacks from Golan Heights
Hezbollah, Future talks see ‘serious progress’
Mustaqbal: Hizbullah Pushing Country to Danger, Trying to Impose Presidential Candidate
Fugitives Ali and Rifaat Eid Attend Slain Relative's Funeral
Lebanese Cabinet Crisis Subsides as Salam Calls on Ministers to Resume Meetings
Kataeb: Complete Internal Stability Can't Be Achieved without a President
Change and Reform Says Debate on New Cabinet Mechanism 'Unnecessary'
No need to panic about swine flu: Health Ministry
French Jihadist Expert Denied Entry to Lebanon
Lebanese Bishops Visit Aoun over Fate of Christians in Orient
Lebanese Government maintains stability amid turmoil
Mini Studio children’s theater opens in Beirut
Cedrus expands to retail banking
Soldier killed in Akkar raid, shelling continues
Lebanon deports French researcher
Draft civil marriage law submitted to Parliament
Efforts aim to unlink presidency, regional woes
Army expands northeast border shelling
Penis size: Research provides the long and short of it
Baby Dies after Being Refused Admission to Akkar Hospital
Abou Faour Bans ZEIN Products and those Manufactured at LAVENDER SARL
17 Assyrians Flee to Lebanon from Syria as Others Await Entry
Report: Armed Groups to Advance into Lebanon from Eastern Border
Kanaan Says FPM Waiting for LF Response on Breakthrough Deal
March 14 to Launch National Council
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Full text of Netanyahu's address
Obama says timing of Netanyahu's speech on Iran is a mistake
Israeli Opposition slams Netanyahu's 'chutzpa' after speech to Congress
Herzog: Netanyahu's speech won't halt Iran
Iran rejects demand for 10-year nuclear freeze
Executions top long UN list of Iranian human rights violations
Rice at AIPAC: Soundbites won't stop Iran
Why is Netanyahu treating Obama so badly?
Gulf markets mixed, property stocks boost Egypt
Netanyahu U.S. Speech Impresses Many Israelis, But Not
France Skeptical about U.N. 'Freeze' for Syria
Rights Groups Urge UAE to Free Dozens of Activists
European Killed Fighting IS in Syria
Assad Says Erdogan Backing 'Takfiri Forces'
Arab Summit to Mull Creation of Joint Force against IS
Iran Mourns 7 Afghans Killed Fighting for Damascus Ally
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Iran rejects Obama nuclear call before Netanyahu speech
Egypt: Monks lie before bulldozers to protect monastery from workmen screaming “Allahu akbar”
UK report: 400 more victims of Muslim rape gangs; authorities feared “racism” charges
Ohio: Brother of jihad terror suspect arrested for threatening deputies
Video and transcript: Netanyahu’s historic speech to Congress
NY: Accused jihadi says he was just “chasing women on the Internet”
Hamas-linked CAIR to sue FBI over death of friend of Boston Marathon jihadi
Kansas Muslim “well on his way” to becoming jihad terrorist before FBI sting
Hizbullah Pushing Country to Danger, Trying to Impose Presidential Candidate
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc accused Hizbullah on Tuesday of seeking to “impose its presidential candidate as a sole nominee,” blaming it for the ongoing presidential vacuum. Criticizing remarks by Hizbullah politburo chief Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, the bloc said his statements “clearly show who is obstructing the election of a new president.”Dialogue over the presidential crisis “must occur in the right place … and the serious way to discuss the electoral issue should be through dialogue with MP Michel Aoun,” al-Sayyed said following a visit to the headquarters of the the Tashnag party on Monday. Mustaqbal warned that his remarks “maintain the presidential vacuum in the country and consequently expose the Lebanese state to reckless bets and all kinds of dangers.”
It accused Hizbullah of “taking the country hostage” with the aim of “securing the election of a certain candidate, without respecting the democratic mechanism for the election of presidents.” The bloc also held the party responsible for “pushing the country to a higher level of danger, after it subjected Lebanon to enormous threats through its unilateral decision to take part in a regional axis and in the fighting in Syria alongside a tyrant regime.”“Hizbullah has chosen its candidate for the president and this is its right, but it is now trying to impose him as a sole nominee on which all Lebanese must agree,” Mustaqbal lamented, urging the party to “leave the freedom of choice to the Lebanese people and its lawmakers.”Turning to the issue of the controversy over the mechanism of cabinet's work in the absence of a president, Mustaqbal called for “abiding by the stipulations of the Lebanese Constitution in a strict manner, without inventing precedents or norms that violate the Constitution.”Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. The vacuum has created a debate on whether to change the mechanism at cabinet. The differences between the ministers on the amendment of the mechanism prompted Prime Minister Tammam Salam to suspend sessions in the past two weeks giving way for the cabinet members to reach an agreement on the formula, which he wants it to be based on Article 65 of the Constitution. The current mechanism, which was adopted after the cabinet assumed the prerogative of the president in accordance with the constitution, states that ministers should give unanimous support to the government's decisions. But it proved to be troublesome after some ministers resorted to veto power. Earlier on Tuesday, Salam called on cabinet to convene on Thursday.
and Rifaat Eid Attend Slain Relative's Funeral
Naharnet /Residents of the Syrian side of the border town of Hikr al-Daheri held a funeral Tuesday for Bader Eid -- a brother of Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid – who was shot dead Monday in the Akkar town of al-Kuweikhat. TV footage showed Ali Eid and his son Rifaat -- both wanted by Lebanese authorities on terror offenses -- participating in the funeral procession. The coffin was transferred to the Syrian side of the town through the Arida border crossing. Bader succumbed to his injuries in hospital Monday after he was critically wounded in an armed attack on his car in al-Kuweikhat. “To foil strife, we hope the crime's circumstances will be unveiled and I believe Lebanese security agencies have the ability to unveil them,” Rifaat Eid told reporters during the funeral. “I want to thank Syria for allowing us to see our uncle in Syria, not in Lebanon. We weren't able to see him in Lebanon -- not because we were incapable of visiting him, but out of respect for our army and judiciary,” Eid added. He is wanted by the Lebanese judiciary over charges of murder and terrorism that are related to the deadly clashes between the rival Tripoli districts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh in recent years. A 2014 indictment had demanded the death penalty for Rifaat Eid and three senior Jabal Mohsen fighters. His father, Ali, is wanted in Lebanon in connection with the 2013 twin bombings that targeted Tripoli's al-Salam and al-Taqwa mosques and left 45 people dead and over 500 wounded. The two fugitives managed to flee to Syria as an unprecedented security plan got underway in Tripoli in April 2014. Rifaat, however, vowed to return to Lebanon in his remarks to reporters on Tuesday. “We will return sooner or later, and we will certainly return, because right will triumph and injustice will be exposed,” he said.
Cabinet Crisis Subsides as Salam Calls on Ministers to Resume Meetings
Naharnet/Prime Minister Tammam Salam called Tuesday on the cabinet to resume its meetings, stressing that consensus shouldn't be a reason for obstructing the work of the government. “Priority is to activate the work of the state effectively and smoothly,” Salam said in press release. He pointed out that discussions with the rival parties led to a breakthrough in the government crisis. “After contacting all parties represented at the cabinet... and reaching a conviction that the current political state compels everyone to safeguard the government and fortify its unity... I consider that my national duty obliges the elements of the national consensus to give the maximum priority to activate the work of the cabinet.” The premier stressed the importance of “evading the narrow interests based on the national pact, which allows the diversity in opinions without turning it into a paralysis tool.”Salam expressed hope that the goodwill of the political arch-foes “would become a new opportunity for a more productive cabinet,” reiterating calls for the election of a new head of state to restore balance to the constitutional institutions. The differences between the ministers on the amendment of the mechanism prompted Salam to suspend sessions in the past two weeks giving way for the cabinet members to reach an agreement on the formula, which he wants it to be based on article 65 of the constitution. The current mechanism, which was adopted after the cabinet assumed the prerogative of the president in accordance with the constitution, states that ministers should give unanimous support to the government's decisions. But it proved to be troublesome after some ministers resorted to veto power.
Bishops Visit Aoun over Fate of Christians in Orient
Naharnet/A delegation of bishops visited Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun in Rabieh on Tuesday to discuss with him the conditions of Christians in the Orient. The delegation included bishops Issam Darwish, George Saliba, Boulos Safar and Rweiss al-Orashalimi. There are fears among religious minorities in both Syria and Iraq, who have been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State group. During the militants' bloody campaign in both countries, where they have declared a self-styled caliphate, minorities, including Christians, have been repeatedly targeted and killed, driven from their homes, had their women enslaved and places of worship destroyed. The abductions of more than 220 Christian Assyrians by the IS in northeastern Syria last week have added to the existing fears.
IS and al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front are entrenched on Lebanon's eastern border region. “Christians shouldn't be dealt with this way,” Aoun said after meeting the bishops. “There is a systematic eradication of Christians in the Orient,” he said.He added that the Christians are suffering from the same misery they witnessed under the Ottoman empire. Aoun also urged the international community to use its conscience in resolving the problem.
and Reform Says Debate on New Cabinet Mechanism 'Unnecessary'
Naharnet /The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc reiterated Tuesday its rejection of any attempt to change the mechanism through which the cabinet is taking decisions in the absence of a president, noting that the objection of one minister -- or even a political component -- should not paralyze the work of the council of ministers. “The cabinet cannot continue its work normally in the absence of a president,” Education Minister Elias Bou Saab said after the bloc's weekly meeting in Rabieh. “It is unnecessary to talk about the cabinet's mechanism and the issue of one third or two thirds, as this is a cabinet of necessity and cooperation with all parties is required in order to facilitate the affairs of citizens,” Bou Saab added. He stressed that Change and Reform is “with productivity and against obstruction.”Commenting on Prime Minister Tammam Salam's recent call for resorting to “consensus” in taking the cabinet's decisions, Bou Saab described it as “necessary” as he underlined that “there should not be any obstruction.”“This means that a minister or two ministers must not be allowed to block decrees in the cabinet,” Bou Saab explained. “When a component of the government voices objection over a certain decree, this should not mean paralysis, unless there are objections from more than one component,” he went on to say. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. The vacuum has created a debate on whether to change the mechanism at cabinet. The differences between the ministers on the amendment of the mechanism prompted Salam to suspend sessions in the past two weeks giving way for the cabinet members to reach an agreement on the formula, which he wants it to be based on Article 65 of the Constitution. The current mechanism, which was adopted after the cabinet assumed the prerogative of the president in accordance with the constitution, states that ministers should give unanimous support to the government's decisions. But it proved to be troublesome after some ministers resorted to veto power. Earlier on Tuesday, Salam called on cabinet to convene on Thursday. Separately, Bou Saab said the bloc discussed the draft laws that are being “stalled” in the parliamentary committees and “the need to activate them.”“There are subcommittees and joint committees that are tackling all laws except for those submitted by us and we will exert serious efforts to debate them, topped by the denaturalization and army laws,” he added. Bou Saab also revealed that the Free Patriotic Movement will hold a central rally to “commemorate the May 6 anniversary,” or Lebanon's Martyrs' Day, in order to “remind of the massacres that the region witnessed.”
Complete Internal Stability Can't Be Achieved without a President
Naharnet/The Kataeb Party renewed on Tuesday its demand for the election of a new president, saying that a new head of state will restore normalcy to state institutions. It said in a statement after its weekly politburo meeting: “Complete internal stability cannot be achieved without a president, who safeguards the national pact and constitution.”It also praised the efforts of Prime Minister Tammam Salam that are aimed at “preserving consensus” among the political factions in light of the dispute over the cabinet mechanism given the presidential vacuum. The party stressed the need for “taking decisions at cabinet through consensus among all ministers in a productive and positive spirit.”It therefore called for the government to convene “in order to maintain higher national interests and the vital interests of the people.”
On the army's ongoing efforts to thwart the infiltration of armed groups to Lebanon through its eastern border with Syria, the party hailed the military's preemptive operation. “The measure helps it expand its area of operation, crippling the capabilities of the gunmen and forcing them further back into Syrian territory,” it noted. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. The vacuum has created a debate on whether to change the mechanism at cabinet. The differences between the ministers on the amendment of the mechanism prompted Salam to suspend sessions in the past two weeks giving way for the cabinet members to reach an agreement on the formula, which he wants it to be based on Article 65 of the Constitution.
The current mechanism, which was adopted after the cabinet assumed the prerogative of the president in accordance with the constitution, states that ministers should give unanimous support to the government's decisions. But it proved to be troublesome after some ministers resorted to veto power. Earlier on Tuesday, Salam called on cabinet to convene on Thursday.
Jihadist Expert Denied Entry to Lebanon
Naharnet/Authorities have denied a French expert on jihadists entry to Lebanon and accused him of links to extremist groups, diplomatic and security sources said Tuesday. Romain Caillet, a researcher with the French Institute for the Near East, is a specialist on jihadist movements including the Islamic State group and had been based in Lebanon for five years. A French embassy source said Caillet was "turned away on Sunday... at Beirut airport when he tried to return from Morocco. "No explanation of the reason for his expulsion has been provided to us," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A high-ranking source at the General Security said Caillet was suspected of involvement with extremists. "Under the cover of his work, this individual was suspected of being linked with terrorist organizations," the source aid. Caillet could not be immediately reached for comment. But on his Twitter account Tuesday he suggested Hizbullah was responsible. "What do they accuse me of? Daring to speak of the influence of Hizbullah and its pro-Iranian allies on all of Lebanon's institutions," he wrote. "The murderers of researcher Michel Seurat and Rafik Hariri wanted me to leave Lebanon so my work will continue elsewhere." Seurat, a sociologist, was kidnapped in Lebanon in 1985 and died in captivity. His abduction was claimed by the Islamic Jihad group, a branch of Hizbullah. Five members of Hizbullah are being prosecuted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, who was killed in a Beirut bomb blast in 2005. Agence France Presse
Audio/Netanyahu to Congress: Emerging
deal would lead to a nuclear Iran and inevitable war
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the US Congress on Tuesday, saying that the current deal being formulated by the P5+1 group of world powers and Tehran would inevitably lead to a nuclear Iran and war. The US has said over the past year that no deal with Iran is better than a bad deal, Netanyahu told the assembled American lawmakers."Well this is a bad deal. A very bad deal." Netanyahu said that the alternative to this deal was not war, as some have posited, "but a better deal."
Netanyahu's stance on Iran 'not a viable negotiating position
By MICHAEL WILNER/03/03/2015/WASHINGTON – Susan Rice, the face of the Obama administration, in a fierce debate with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over nuclear negotiations with Iran, broadly defended US President Barack Obama's approach on Monday night. Speaking to thousands of gathered delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference in Washington, Rice, the president's national security advisor, repeatedly underscored Obama's commitment to Israel's security.
Opposition slams Netanyahu's 'chutzpa' after speech to Congress
By JPOST.COM STAFF/03/03/2015
Herzog says Netanyahu widened the rift with Washington while doing little to stop Iran's nuclear program; Gal-On says Netanyahu "irrelevant" on Iran issue.
Zionist Union leader Issac Herzog spoke shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his address to the US Congress on Tuesday, saying that the premier's speech had done nothing to stop Iran's nuclear program.
Speaking at a community on the Gaza border, Herzog said, "There is no doubt that Netanyahu is a good speaker, But let's be honest, the speech we heard today, as impressive as it was, did not stop the Iranian nuclear program."
Herzog said that "the painful truth is that, behind the applause, Netanyahu remains alone. And the negotiations with Iran will continue without any Israeli involvement."
Addressing Iran's nuclear program, Herzog said that no Israeli leader would accept a nuclear Iran. "The determination to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon goes across continents and across party lines. As prime minister, I am obligated to form the widest possible international front to ensure Israel's security demands are met."
"The question is not if the emerging nuclear deal is bad. The question is how do we prevent a bad deal," Herzog said.
The Zionist Union chief accused Netanyahu of causing a dangerous rift with Washington.
"This speech is a very harsh wound to Israel-US relations," Herzog said. "It will not change the position of the administration and will only widen the rift with Israel's greatest ally and strategic partner."
Herzog said that all of Israel would be made to pay the price for the rift with Washington.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On accused the premier of "chutzpa" for bad-mouthing the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.
"It's like David Cameron coming to the Knesset and telling Netanyahu that he is endangering the security of Israel," she said.
She said that Netanyahu had made himself "irrelevant" on the subject of Iran. "I hope that after this speech he will also become irrelevant as an Israeli politician."
Pelosi 'saddened by insult to intelligence of US' in PM's speech ; US administration official: Speech offered no alternative to talks.
Ynet and Agencies
03.03.15/ Israel News
US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't offer any "viable alternatives" to the nuclear negotiations with Iran during his speech to Congress earlier in the day.
Speaking from the Oval Office of the White House, Obama said he read a transcript of Netanyahu's speech Tuesday. "There was nothing new" in the speech, he said.
The president said that Netanyahu had made almost the same speech when he warned against the interim deal reached with Iran. That deal, Obama said, has resulted in a freeze and rolling back of Iran's nuclear program.
Netanyahu's alternative to talks amounts to no deal at all, the president said, and that would lead Iran to redouble efforts to build a nuclear bomb.
In his speech, Netanyahu said the deal would all but guarantee that Iran gets nuclear weapons. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi also made no effort to disguise her disapproval at Netanyahu's speech shortly after its completion Tuesday, saying she was "saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States."
The most senior Democrat to attend the speech to a joint session of Congress, Pelosi exited the chamber before Netanyahu, and issued her less than complimentary statement soon after. Vice President Joe Biden, who would normally preside over joint sessions, was replaced by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch due to a foreign trip. Obama was reportedly participating in a video conference on the situation in Ukraine during the speech.
“The unbreakable bonds between the United States and Israel are rooted in our shared values, our common ideals and mutual interests," Pelosi said. "Ours is a deep and abiding friendship that will always reach beyond party. Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israeli people. The state of Israel stands as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century, and the United States will always have an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.
“That is why, as one who values the US–Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation."
Pelosi also contradicted Netanyahu's remark that the agreement currently being formulated was "a bad deal."
“Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated something we all agree upon: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both our countries. We have all said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons is the bedrock of our foreign policy and national security," she said. "As President Obama has said consistently, all options are on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.”
The speech also drew fire from Netanyahu's domestic political rivals. While "there is no doubt that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to deliver a speech", Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said after the speech Tuesday, "it will not stop the Iranian nuclear agreement" currently being drafted.
Herzog was speaking in the immediate aftermath of Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress, in which he lambasted the agreement currently being drafted by the leading world powers that aims to curtail Iran's nuclear aspirations.
Israel was facing securitry issues far more worrying than Iran, Herzog said, and vowed that as prime minister, he would work to ensure that Iran did not acquire nuclear capabilities.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the Obama administration said Tuesday that Netanyahu's speech had failed to offer an alternative to the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
"Simply demanding that Iran completely capitulate is not a plan, nor would any country support us in that position. The prime minister offered no concrete action plan," the official said, speaking on background.
The official said that the administration was pursuing a deal that "verifiably prevents" Iran from obtaining a weapon, and increases the breakout time "substantially" to a year from the current estimate of two to three months.
"These negotiations are not an opening to a rapprochement with Iran," the official said.
The official said that the proposed length of the deal - a decade or longer - would be "far longer than any other option."
"Military action would set it back by a fraction of that time, at which point Iran would begin to rebuild its program and try to break out for a weapon," the official said.
The official said Netanyahu contradicted himself by arguing that the Iranian government is both "powerful and unchanging" and "weak and vulnerable" and insisting that it needed to change as a condition for a nuclear deal.
"The logic of the prime minister's speech is regime change, not a nuclear speech," the official said.
The president of left-leaning J Street organization, Jeremy Ben-Ami, also said that the speech offered "nothing new."
"The Israeli prime minister has insisted that despite the inappropriate timing of his address, the American people needed to hear what he has to say," Ben-Ami said in a statement, highlighting the controversy caused by the speech.
"But this speech was nothing new. The Obama administration agrees that a nuclear Iran would be unacceptable. The difference is that it is pursuing serious diplomacy to prevent that outcome, and Netanyahu has refused to offer credible solutions.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu offered no serious alternatives today. Who can now say that this speech was worth the considerable cost to the US-Israel relationship?"
Obama says timing of Netanyahu's speech on Iran is a
US President Barack Obama said on Monday that the bond between the US and Israel is unbreakable, despite tensions over differences in opinion with regard to efforts to seal a landmark atomic deal with Iran.
In an interview with Reuters at the White House, Obama said that a rift over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech to Congress opposing the Iran deal on Tuesday was a distraction that would not be "permanently destructive" to US-Israeli ties.
But he said there was a "substantial disagreement" between his administration and the Israeli government over how to achieve their shared goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist ... if we've got that, and we've got a way of verifying that, there's no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don't have a nuclear weapon," Obama said.
The US goal is to make sure "there's at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one," he added.
Israel fears that Obama's Iran diplomacy, with an end-of-March deadline for a framework nuclear agreement, will still allow its arch-foe to develop an atom bomb. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu has spoken scathingly about a possible deal, saying negotiators appear to have given up on a pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Obama sought to downplay the long-term damage from the row over Netanyahu's speech to Congress, saying the rift was not personal but a matter of policy.
"As a matter of policy, we think it's a mistake for the prime minister of any country to come to speak before Congress a few weeks before they're about to have an election. It makes it look like we are taking sides," Obama said, referring to Israel's March 17 election.
Obama said Netanyahu had been wrong before with his opposition to a 2013 interim deal with Iran, pointing out that Iran had rolled back elements of its program during that time.
The White House last week denied a report that the United States and Iran were exploring a possible 10-year deal that would initially freeze Iran's nuclear program but gradually allow it to increase activities that could enable it to produce nuclear arms in the last years of the agreement.
In a speech on Monday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest US pro-Israel lobby, Netanyahu again warned that a nuclear deal could threaten Israel's survival while insisting the US-Israeli relationship was "stronger than ever."
Asked about the prospects for a final deal with Iran, which has a June 30 deadline, Obama said that a key doubt was whether Iran would agree to rigorous inspection demands and the low levels of uranium enrichment capability they would have to maintain. "But if they do agree to it, it would be far more effective in controlling their nuclear program than any military action we could take, any military action Israel could take and far more effective than sanctions will be," Obama said.
A comprehensive nuclear deal is seen as crucial to reducing the risk of a wider Middle East war, at a time when Iran is deeply involved in conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Netanyahu, Not Obama, Speaks for Us
by Quin Hillyer March 2, 2015 /National Review
While under fierce attack from President Obama, the Israeli prime minister defends Western values and speaks the truth about Iran. The leader of the free world will be addressing Congress on Tuesday. The American president is doing everything possible to undermine him. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a nation surrounded by enemies, a nation so small that it narrows at one point to just 9.3 miles. Yet, in a world where the Oval Office is manned by someone openly apologetic for most American exercises of power; and where Western Europe’s economy is enervated, its people largely faithless, and its leadership feckless; and where Freedom House has found “an overall drop in [global] freedom for the ninth consecutive year,” the safeguarding of our civilization might rely more on leaders who possess uncommon moral courage than on those who possess the most nukes or biggest armies. Right now, nobody on the world stage speaks for civilization the way Netanyahu does. While Barack Obama babbles about the supposedly “legitimate grievances” of those who turn to jihad, Netanyahu talks like this (from his speech to the United Nations on September 27, 2012): The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition. The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years. They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength. At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights. We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.
We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace. These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind. Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization. When Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel last year, Netanyahu, in his necessary military response, did something almost unprecedented in the history of warfare. As he accurately described in his U.N. speech last year, on September 29: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, always to enable Palestinian civilians to evacuate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies As Barack Obama complains (with scant grasp of the historical context) about how Christians were such gosh-darn meanies a thousand years ago in the Crusades, Netanyahu protects the ability of Muslims today to have free access to the Old City of Jerusalem, even as Jews and Christians are prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount. At the beginning of his first term, in his first trip overseas as president, Obama delivered a speech to Turkey’s parliament, under the thumb of the repressive Tayyip Erdogan. “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history,” he confessed, sounding like America’s therapist-in-chief. “Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.” Netanyahu, in contrast, in a 2011 Meet the Press interview, offered unabashed words of praise for the United States: “Israel is the one country in which everyone is pro-American, opposition and coalition alike. And I represent the entire people of Israel who say, ‘Thank you, America.’ And we’re friends of America, and we’re the only reliable allies of America in the Middle East.” (Netanyahu was accurate in his description of how much Israelis appreciate Americans, as I saw last summer during a visit to the country.) In thanking America, Netanyahu was not posturing for political advantage.
Netanyahu — who spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, and who took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and who learned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism — has spoken eloquently for decades in praise of the Western heritage of freedom and human rights. He also speaks and acts, quite obviously, to preserve security — for Israel, of course, but more broadly for the civilized world. On Tuesday, as he has done for more than 30 years, Netanyahu will talk about the threat to humanity posed by Iran. It’s mind-boggling to imagine that any national leader in the free world would fail to understand the danger. The ayatollahs have never backed down from their stated aim of destroying Christendom. They have never wavered from their depiction of the United States as the “Great Satan.” Just last week, Iran bragged about its recent test-firing of “new strategic weapons” that it says will “play a key role” in any future battle against the “Great Satan U.S.” Iran also continues developing, while trying to keep them secret, new missiles and launch sites with devastatingly long-range capability. It continues to enrich uranium, including an allegedly secret program, to a level that’s a short jump-step from bomb strength. It has a lengthy record of lying and cheating about its military activities, its compliance with U.N. mandates (not that the U.N. is worth much anyway), and its protections of even the limited human rights it actually recognizes as such. About the only thing Iran never lies about is its absolute, unyielding determination to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It was only a few months ago, for example, that the “revolutionary” regime’s “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released a nine-point plan for how to “annihilate” the Jewish state. Yet Obama not only begrudges the Israeli prime minister the opportunity to make his case against this existential threat to his nation, but he conducts a diplomatic and political assault against Netanyahu of a ferocity rarely seen in the annals of American foreign policy. Obama’s actions aren’t just wrongheaded; they are malignant. They pervert American tradition and American interests, and they attempt to deprive the entire free world of its single most clarion voice for enlightenment values. Benjamin Netanyahu of course speaks first for Israel, but he speaks also for you and for me, for decency and humaneness, and for vigilance and strength against truly evil adversaries. Congress, by inviting him, is wise. Obama, by opposing him, is horribly wrong. And the civilized world, if it ignores him, will be well-nigh suicidal. — Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.
A scenario Netanyahu hasn’t spelled out: One Iranian
nuke could obliterate Israel’s heartland
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 3, 2015
When Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu speaks out against Iran becoming a pre-nuclear state he is warning that Iran could at any time cross the line agreed in diplomacy with the US and build a bomb whenever it chooses. He has never spelled out the mechanics of this threat to Israel’s survival.
The last DEBKA Weekly revealed in detail one potential scenario that, given Israel’s small size, would call for no more than one nuke to destroy its heartland and inflict at least an estimated million casualties. This nuclear bomb or device would be dropped from an IranAir civilian airliner on a regular run from Larnaca over the Mediterranean about 100 km from the Israeli coast.
After the plane disappeared, the delayed action mechanism would detonate the bomb and set off a tsunami. Giant waves would swamp the densely populated Tel Aviv conurbation and its satellites. This 1,500 square kilometer area is home to some 3.7 million people, nearly half of the country’s entire population, its military and banking centers, hi-tech industry and the stock exchange.
The cost in lives would be cataclysmic – at least a million dead.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary rulers make no secret of their plans for Israel. On Feb. 26, the second day of Iran’s 2015 war games, a senior Revolutionary Guards officer declared that Iran had the ability to wipe the cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv off the face of the earth.
In projecting this scenario, Israel’s defense chiefs have no doubt set up defenses and a second-strike capacity in a mountainous area outside the range of a tsunami and far from Israel’s shores.
Israel is also on guard on both of its northern borders against the hostile Iranian military presence encroaching from Syria and Lebanon.
The big speech - about which Netanyahu joked: Never has so much been written about a speech before it was given - will be delivered to a joint session of the US Congress Tuesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. IST.
It is hard to see what he hopes to achieve, aside from dramatizing his fight against the emerging US-Iranian deal which, he warns, will enable Iran to consummate its drive for nuclear weapons early in the future.
He takes the august podium under a barrage of criticism from President Barack Obama, his aides and his political opponents at home. About one-fifth of Democratic members will be absent. The White House has warned him against “betraying trust” by revealing details conveyed in confidence. But he won cheers from a large AIPAC audience earlier when he said, “Israel now has a voice and I will use it!”
In a Reuters interview Monday night, Obama said the US and Israel agreed Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons, but differed on how to achieve this goal. Any deal he would agree to, Obama said, would require Iran to freeze its nuclear program at least a decade. The US goal is to make sure "there's at least a year between us seeing them try to get a nuclear weapon and them actually being able to obtain one," he said.
A key doubt was whether Iran would agree to rigorous inspection demands and the low levels of uranium enrichment capability they would have to maintain.
Monday, March 2, the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, complained once again that Iran was still not answering key questions about its nuclear projects or opening up suspect sites to inspection.
But US national security adviser Susan Rice, who addressed AIPAC after Netanyahu, insisted that the prime minister’ demand to strip Iran of the ability to enrich uranium would be “neither realistic nor achievable,” adding that President Obama had left all options on the table for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.
After the speech to Congress, the prime minister will meet Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid with a group of bipartisan lawmakers.
Although no member of the administration will be present for the speech – not just Vice President Joe Biden - the office of House Speaker John Boehner, who invited the Israeli leader to give the address, says the demand for tickets is unprecedented – from both Republicans and Democrats alike. The House and Senate have set up alternative viewing locations.
Assyrians: Remembering 'The Year of the Sword'
By Lela Gilbert
I recently spent some time in New York City with Juliana Taimoorazy, a courageous and outspoken champion of the world's Assyrian Christian community. Juliana's lovely face frequently graces the TV for news interviews in which she usually finds herself describing yet another attack on her people.
Also known as Chaldean Christians, Juliana's fellow believers -- who comprise one of the world's most ancient churches -- continue to be targeted by radical Islamist groups in Iraq and in Syria.
Our conversations centered on Juliana's personal story and on the book that we are collaboratively writing to document the Assyrians' ongoing persecution in the Middle East and the response of the diaspora scattered across the globe.
This is a history of relentless abuse that spans centuries; a story that deserves to be told in rich detail.
During those conversations -- held over hot Starbucks coffee during some exceptionally icy days -- we discussed brutal attacks that took place in Iraq in the mid-2000s: kidnapped priests, blown-up school buses, beheadings and cold-blooded murders.
All these climaxed on Oct. 31, 2010 with a gruesome assault by the Islamic State of Iraq (the forerunner of ISIS) on Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Assyrian Catholic Church. In this bloodbath, 58 worshippers, police and bystanders lost their lives; 78 were injured or maimed.
Stored in my computer are horrifically graphic photos of that massacre, sent to me at the time by a military friend. They are almost unbearable to look at, but I never had the heart to delete them.
Juliana, in turn, showed me videos of three devastated survivors of that same attack, interviewed just days after the massacre. Clearly traumatized, they choked on their tears as they recalled the shooting of a 3-year-old boy, a beloved member of their family, who pleaded with the killers, "Enough! Enough!" -- even as they took his life.
Reviewing all this shook us both to the core. It also strengthened our resolve to tell the story as lucidly and thoroughly as possible.
Alas, there would be no shortage of material. In just over a week's time, news agencies were reporting yet another ISIS attack on Assyrian Christians.
Beginning early in the morning on Feb. 23, ISIS terrorists abducted more than 150 women, men, children and elderly from their Syrian homes.
The weary world, still dazed by the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians the week before, watched in silent horror.
By Thursday afternoon, the number of kidnapped Christians in Syria had reportedly risen to 220. ISIS had continued its rampage through 11 Christian villages near the town of Tal Tamr, not far from the Syrian-Turkish border.
My Hudson Institute colleague Nina Shea wrote for Fox News,
The Islamist militants reportedly separated the captives, men from women and children -- a pattern also seen when ISIS attacked Iraq's Yizidi community on Sinjar mountain last August. The Syrian Christians' fate is unknown but could include murder, enslavement, rape or being traded as a hostage. Churches in the seized villages could be seen ablaze from the opposite riverbank.
Syrian-Catholic Archbishop of Hasakah-Nisibi, Jacques Behnan Hindo, told the Vatican press Fides that the Christians feel like they are 'abandoned into the hands' of ISIS.
The Archbishop explained:
“Yesterday American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action. We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hasakah, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN High Commission for Refugees is nowhere to be seen."
By the time all this happened, Juliana and I were in two different places. She had flown to a conference in Nashville where she would once again present her appeal on behalf of Assyrian Christians.
I had returned to Jerusalem, where reported atrocities against religious minorities in surrounding countries are all too common. In fact, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians live without fear of radical Islamist aggression.
Before long, the Middle East media reported that a respected bishop was placing the blame for the Assyrians' abduction on the Turkish government. Jacques Behnan Hindo, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Hasakah-Nisibi, made the claim on Vatican Radio:
Every day, families are emigrating from Damascus by plane because of the blockade we have around us.
In the north, Turkey allows through lorries, Daesh [ISIS] fighters, oil stolen from Syria, wheat and cotton: all of these can cross the border but nobody [from the Christian community] can pass over.
Meanwhile, a typical ISIS response, reported by Reuters, was: Some people have tried to [reach their loved ones] by cellphone, the relatives that have been abducted, and they get an answer from a member of ISIS who tells that they will send the head of their relative.
“They are trying to terrorize the parents, the relatives in the Christian Assyrian community,” said Ishak, who is president of the Syriac National Council of Syria.
My own experience with the Assyrian Christians began in late October, when I visited some of the refugees who had fled from ISIS. They were among thousands of Christians who were driven out of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain in Iraq during in the summer of 2014. Tens of thousands of them found refuge in Erbil, Kurdistan.
For the record, no one I talked to there would have been the least bit surprised to hear that Turkey was again being suspected of supporting ISIS.
At the same time, the utter losses that those refugees in Erbil had endured creased their fatigued faces. Not only had everything they had accomplished in a lifetime been stripped away, but some of their loved ones were nowhere to be found. And haunting atrocities were burned into their memories -- cruelties they could never forget.
Today's massacres, great and small, evoke the mass murder of more than 1.5 million Christians that took place in the early 20th century. Usually described as the Armenian genocide, Armenians indeed bore the heaviest death toll. But they were not the only victims.
In his landmark book The Lost History of Christianity, historian Philip Jenkins wrote,
Lord [James] Bryce alleged that the Turkish government was pursuing a “plan for exterminating Christianity, root and branch,” which equally targeted “the minor communities, such as the Nestorian and the Assyro-Chaldean churches.” Claiming to have lost two-thirds of their own people during their own wartime genocide, the Assyrians recall 1915 as sayfo, “the Year of the Sword.”
Two-thirds of the Assyrian Christian community was estimated as 750,000 dead. And as many as 3,000 more were slaughtered in the Simele massacre, carried out by the Iraqi government specifically against Assyrian Christians in August 1933.
Because of these seemingly endless assaults, some believe that the ancient Christian communities in the Middle East are finished, and that only tattered remnants will survive. Philip Jenkins wrote,
Middle Eastern Christianity will not become extinct in the same way that animal or plant species vanish, with no representatives left to carry on the line and no hope of revival. Even in the worst-case scenario, a few families, a few old believers, will linger on for decades to come. Millions of people from the region will also continue the tradition elsewhere. For practical purposes, however, Middle Eastern Christianity has, within living memory, all but disappeared as a living force.
But others, like Juliana Taimoorazy, have far greater hope for their beleaguered people. Juliana is quick to remind her listeners that there's more to the Assyrian Christian community than meets the eye. These believers not only cherish a religious identity, but many also see themselves as a nation -- a nation that dates back to the 7th Century BCE.
And more than a few have never given up the hope of rebuilding it.
The Assyrian Nation's roots lie in the primeval soil of the Nineveh Plain where it all began a millennia ago. And the idea of a national resurrection is not lost on those who fear the demise of Christianity's most venerable communities.
When I was in Erbil, conversations with refugees often had to do with their desire to return to their lost homes. Some wanted to go back; others did not. But all agreed that such a return could only take place if and when a safe haven were to be established for them -- a protected Christian enclave.
And, of course, it would be founded on the Nineveh Plain.
In fact, twice in the early 20th Century, Assyrian Christians appealed to the world powers to establish a Christian "reservation" in Nineveh, governed by their Patriarch and protected by their own warriors. In both cases, the attempt failed disastrously.
Thankfully, for visionaries, it's never too late.
It so happens that the safe-haven idea is being revisited by former U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, the guardian of persecuted Christians and long-time advocate for religious freedom.
A report from Wolf's newly-minted Wilberforce 21 Initiative proposed:
[T]he establishment of a Nineveh Plains Province uniquely designed for Christians, Yezidis and other besieged minorities. Despite the horrors they face, the majority of the religious and ethnic minorities want to remain as productive and peaceful citizens within Iraq and their historic homelands.
One Iraqi priest implored, “Help me to stay.”
Will his cry fall on deaf ears or will policymakers and people of good will be propelled to act?
It's a provocative question. And for the besieged Assyrian Christian community -- who breathlessly await word of ISIS's most recent captives -- an affirmative answer can't come soon enough.
Complete text of Netanyahu's address
Prme Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses joint session of Congress and warns that Iran nuclear deal would pave the path to the country achieving nuclear weapons.
Published: 03.03.15, 20:12 / Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress on March 3, here is the full transcript of the speech:
NETANYAHU: Thank you.
... Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Pro Tem Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Minority - Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
I also want to acknowledge Senator, Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry, it's good to see you back on your feet.
I guess it's true what they say, you can't keep a good man down.
My friends, I'm deeply humbled by the opportunity to speak for a third time before the most important legislative body in the world, the US Congress.
I want to thank you all for being here today. I know that my speech has been the subject of much controversy. I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.
I want to thank you, Democrats and Republicans, for your common support for Israel, year after year, decade after decade.
I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.
The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.
Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American - of America's people and of America's presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.
Now, some of that is widely known.
Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.
I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.
In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.
Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists.
In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.
And some of what the president has done for Israel might never be known, because it touches on some of the most sensitive and strategic issues that arise between an American president and an Israeli prime minister.
But I know it, and I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support.
WATCH: Netanyahu's address to Congress
And Israel is grateful to you, the American Congress, for your support, for supporting us in so many ways, especially in generous military assistance and missile defense, including Iron Dome.
Last summer, millions of Israelis were protected from thousands of Hamas rockets because this capital dome helped build our Iron Dome.
Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you've done for Israel.
My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we'll read the Book of Esther. We'll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated - he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn't exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
For those who believe that Iran threatens the Jewish state, but not the Jewish people, listen to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's chief terrorist proxy. He said: If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down around the world.
But Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They're heirs to one of the world's great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots - religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran's borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to "export the revolution throughout the world."
I'm standing here in Washington, DC and the difference is so stark. America's founding document promises life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply.
Just last week, near Hormuz, Iran carried out a military exercise blowing up a mock US aircraft carrier. That's just last week, while they're having nuclear talks with the United States. But unfortunately, for the last 36 years, Iran's attacks against the United States have been anything but mock. And the targets have been all too real.
Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran, murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut, and was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beyond the Middle East, Iran attacks America and its allies through its global terror network. It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. It helped Al Qaida bomb US embassies in Africa. It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, DC.
In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran's aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.
So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations.
We must all stand together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror.
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani's government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I'd like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Iran's regime is as radical as ever, its cries of "Death to America," that same America that it calls the "Great Satan," as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn't be surprising, because the ideology of Iran's revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that's why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don't be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn't turn Iran into a friend of America.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there's no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don't share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember - I'll say it one more time - the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don't need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it.
Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran.
The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short break-out time to the bomb. Break-out time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished. Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran's nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran's break-out time would be very short - about a year by US assessment, even shorter by Israel's.
And if - if Iran's work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that break-out time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
True, certain restrictions would be imposed on Iran's nuclear program and Iran's adherence to those restrictions would be supervised by international inspectors. But here's the problem. You see, inspectors document violations; they don't stop them.
Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn't stop anything. North Korea turned off the cameras, kicked out the inspectors. Within a few years, it got the bomb.
Now, we're warned that within five years North Korea could have an arsenal of 100 nuclear bombs.
Like North Korea, Iran, too, has defied international inspectors. It's done that on at least three separate occasions - 2005, 2006, 2010. Like North Korea, Iran broke the locks, shut off the cameras.
Now, I know this is not gonna come a shock - as a shock to any of you, but Iran not only defies inspectors, it also plays a pretty good game of hide-and-cheat with them.
The UN's nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, said again yesterday that Iran still refuses to come clean about its military nuclear program. Iran was also caught - caught twice, not once, twice - operating secret nuclear facilities in Natanz and Qom, facilities that inspectors didn't even know existed.
Right now, Iran could be hiding nuclear facilities that we don't know about, the US and Israel. As the former head of inspections for the IAEA said in 2013, he said, "If there's no undeclared installation today in Iran, it will be the first time in 20 years that it doesn't have one." Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted. And that's why the first major concession is a source of great concern. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and relies on inspectors to prevent a breakout. That concession creates a real danger that Iran could get to the bomb by violating the deal.
But the second major concession creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by keeping the deal. Because virtually all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will automatically expire in about a decade.
Now, a decade may seem like a long time in political life, but it's the blink of an eye in the life of a nation. It's a blink of an eye in the life of our children. We all have a responsibility to consider what will happen when Iran's nuclear capabilities are virtually unrestricted and all the sanctions will have been lifted. Iran would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could product many, many nuclear bombs.
Iran's Supreme Leader says that openly. He says, Iran plans to have 190,000 centrifuges, not 6,000 or even the 19,000 that Iran has today, but 10 times that amount - 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium. With this massive capacity, Iran could make the fuel for an entire nuclear arsenal and this in a matter of weeks, once it makes that decision.
My long-time friend, John Kerry, Secretary of State, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires.
Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
And by the way, if Iran's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States.
So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don't believe that Iran's radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite -- would only wet Iran's appetite for more.
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it's under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
Why should Iran's radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both world's: aggression abroad, prosperity at home?
This is a question that everyone asks in our region. Israel's neighbors - Iran's neighbors know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it's been given a clear path to the bomb.
And many of these neighbors say they'll respond by racing to get nuclear weapons of their own. So this deal won't change Iran for the better; it will only change the Middle East for the worse. A deal that's supposed to prevent nuclear proliferation would instead spark a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the planet.
This deal won't be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
If anyone thinks - if anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we'll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to tell you we don't have to bet the security of the world on the hope that Iran will change for the better. We don't have to gamble with our future and with our children's future.
We can insist that restrictions on Iran's nuclear program not be lifted for as long as Iran continues its aggression in the region and in the world.
Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran do three things. First, stop its aggression against its neighbors in the Middle East. Second...
Second, stop supporting terrorism around the world.
And third, stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.
If the world powers are not prepared to insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal is signed, at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behavior before a deal expires.
If Iran changes its behavior, the restrictions would be lifted. If Iran doesn't change its behavior, the restrictions should not be lifted.
If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country.
My friends, what about the argument that there's no alternative to this deal, that Iran's nuclear know-how cannot be erased, that its nuclear program is so advanced that the best we can do is delay the inevitable, which is essentially what the proposed deal seeks to do?
Well, nuclear know-how without nuclear infrastructure doesn't get you very much. A racecar driver without a car can't drive. A pilot without a plan can't fly. Without thousands of centrifuges, tons of enriched uranium or heavy water facilities, Iran can't make nuclear weapons.
Iran's nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.
Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table -- and this often happens in a Persian bazaar - call their bluff. They'll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.
And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran, you have the power to make them need it even more.
My friends, for over a year, we've been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It's a very bad deal. We're better off without it.
Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
A better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short break-out time. A better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends.
A better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb. A better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country...
... no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat.
Ladies and gentlemen, history has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war.
The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live life to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace, we all desire.
My friend, standing up to Iran is not easy. Standing up to dark and murderous regimes never is. With us today is Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
Elie, your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words, "never again."
And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace.
But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.
We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves.
This is why -- this is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.
But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel.
I know that you stand with Israel.
You stand with Israel, because you know that the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history's horrors.
Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this (inaudible) chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land.
And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, (SPEAKING IN HEBREW), "Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them."
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you all.
Thank you, America. Thank you.
Executions top long UN list of Iranian human rights violations
Published: 03.03.15/ Israel News
Iran slams 'double standards' after UN report condemns over 500 executions, rights violations against women, religious minorities, journalists and activists in Iran.
Iran had a "deeply troubling" number of executions last year and did not keep a promise to protect ethnic and religious minorities, the United Nations said on Tuesday in its annual report on Tehran's human rights record.
The report from the office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the UN Human Rights Council catalogued UN concerns about rights violations in Iran against women, religious minorities, journalists and activists.
The report was published as a deadline nears for Iran and major powers to agree a deal on its nuclear program, which Tehran says would end sanctions against it.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif complained to the Council on Monday about "double standards" and an "almost uncontrollable compulsion" to politicize issues.
Iran was believed to have executed at least 500 people between January and November 2014 and possibly many more, the report said. Most victims did not get a fair trial and over 80 percent of those executed were drug offenders, it said.
"The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the continuing large number of executions, including of political prisoners and juveniles," it said, repeating a UN call for a death penalty moratorium and a ban on executing youths.
It said Iran had not kept President Hassan Rouhani's promise to "extend protection to all religious groups and to amend legislation that discriminates against minority groups".
"The above-mentioned commitments have not ... been translated into results," the report said. "Individuals seeking greater recognition for their cultural and linguistic rights risk facing harsh penalties, including capital punishment."
Tehran also continued a crackdown on freedom of expression, having blocked 5 million websites and jailed journalists. A professional ban on human rights lawyers and harassment of activists were "a setback for the country as a whole", it said.
Suspects were allegedly tortured, ill-treated, held for months in solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer and risked the death penalty for crimes such as "corruption on earth" and "enmity against God".
The report said Iran was cooperating more on UN human rights treaties and had invited UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein to visit. But it had not invited the UN investigator on Iranian human rights, and 24 of 29 UN inquiries on specific cases had gone unanswered.
Two-thirds of women reportedly suffer domestic violence, the report said. Girls are forced to marry young, with about 48,450 between the age of 10 and 14 married in 2011, and at least 1,537 under 10 were married in 2012, the report said.
President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran
Faisal J. Abbas/Tuesday, 3 March 2015 /Al Arabiya
It is extremely rare for any reasonable person to ever agree with anything Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says or does.
However, one must admit, Bibi did get it right, at least when it came to dealing with Iran. The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region.
What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World’s biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei. (Although, the latter never seems to write back!)
Threat bigger than nuclear ambitions
Just to be clear, nobody disagrees that ridding Iran of its nuclear ambitions is paramount. And if this can be achieved peacefully, then it would be even better. However, any reasonable man CAN’T possibly turn a blind eye to the other realities on the ground. Indeed, it is Mr. Obama’s controversial take on managing global conflicts that raises serious questions. A case in point is his handling of the Syrian crisis, where according to his own philosophical views, Obama probably takes pride that he managed to rid the Assad regime of its chemical weapons arsenal without firing a single bullet.
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region. Of course, in theory, this could be quite an achievement (which only another war philosopher, such as Sun Tzu, would applaud); but in reality, the problem with what happened is that the REAL issue hasn’t been resolved; as such, the Syrian regime continues – until this day – to slaughter their own people (albeit, using conventional weapons, you know… your everyday bullets, missiles and barrel bombs!)
As such, the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing. What is noteworthy, is that whilst in the past Tehran plotted and implemented most of its terror activities in secret (apart from a few obvious examples such as the 1983 Beirut attack on U.S. Marines); the Islamic Republic seems so at ease today that, as noted by renowned media columnist Diana Moukalled recently, it went public with documenting the appearances of Iranian General Qassim Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force.
In her latest column, Moukalled wrote the days of the few, amateur shots of the infamous Commander are long gone. “Since a few months, photos of Qassim Soleimani have become plentiful and available in High Definition.” “Soleimani is no longer that secretive personality whose role over the past two decades has lingered been between myth and reality. He is now telling us bluntly: Yes, I am Iran’s strongman who is responsible for the Iranian military’s expansion in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Palestinian,” she wrote.
A photograph posted by Mashregh News, an Iranian outlet close to the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, that shows top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani (R) embracing the leader of Iraq’s Shiite Badr militia Hadi al-Amiri. This picture is not dated, but is thought to have been taken in 2014. Among his many handlings, Soleimani is the godfather of Iraq’s infamous “Asaa’ib Ahl Al-Haq” (AAS) brigade, a Shiite paramilitary terrorist group responsible for dozens of atrocious attacks and murdering of both Iraqis and Americans.
Iran supports al-Qaeda
Not only is Iran responsible for sponsoring Shiite terrorist groups, but Sunni ones too. In fact, according to the U.S.’s own State Department, Tehran was home to a number of Al-Qaeda facilitators and high ranking financiers. These accusations are also backed by findings of the U.S. Treasury Department as well. Not only is Iran responsible for sponsoring Shiite terrorist groups, but Sunni ones too.
Now, some would argue that it would be biased and/or naive to leave out Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, out of the equation and blame most of the regions problems on the mischievous Iranian regime. On the contrary, it would be biased and/or naïve NOT to blame Iran for such problems. After all, yes there are terrorists in Saudi Arabia and there are people who financed terrorism, but these are officially outlaws, who are either in jail, being hunted down or are hiding in the caves of Tora Bora or some other remote area. The same, sadly, doesn’t apply to the terrorists of Iran; these are in uniform, hold government positions and are not bothering to hide their evil plots anymore!
Is it jihad or sexual exploitation?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
One Arab writer argues that the three British schoolgirls of Asian origin - Kadiza, Shamima and Amira - who left their homes and sneaked into Syria to join the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are victims of negative propaganda.
He writes that it is slanderous to describe the girls’ journey as “sexual jihad,” the aim of which is to distort the reputation of jihad! He then quotes ISIS’s statement that girls can establish a “perfect family” and life, and that the organization will grant them free housing, and this is why a 15-year-old girl leaves her house in Manchester and goes to Raqqah in Syria!
There are many cases of lost women who were deceived by preachers or recruited via the internet to join fighting organizations in Syria
Of course it is naive to believe this narrative of a “perfect family” amid the destruction in Syria and the immoralities of ISIS beasts. I do not know if it is more important to clean up the language of the news of these shameful and embarrassing terms such as “sexual jihad,” or if we have to deal with the reality of an unprecedented phenomenon whereby dozens of teenage girls leave their parents’ homes to join battlefields.
If we deal with the situation and describe it as it is, we see young girls with young men who take up arms and brag about their relations with these girls, some of whom have been raped for being “infidels” or captives. Numerous videos are proof of these shameful crimes. We know of tens - some say thousands - of women who left their homes in the Gulf, Morocco, Tunisia, Europe and the United States to join ISIS in Syria and Al-Qaeda in Iraq before that.
Any observer can thus conclude that the aim of these fighters is to control women and use them within the context of war pleasures and tools. Strange cases have been documented on the matter. One is that of a Saudi woman who, during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, divorced her husband and agreed with an Al-Qaeda member to smuggle her and her two children to Syria and then to Iraq.
Her aim, as she conveyed it via the internet, was to meet her role-model Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who led Al-Qaeda in Iraq and whose teachings inspired ISIS after he was killed. Although security forces arrested her during her first attempt to leave Saudi Arabia, she later succeeded via Yemen.
She went to Syria then Iraq, where she met Zarqawi and married him for a few days before he divorced her. Another jihadist married her, and then a third. She was later killed in a military raid in Baghdad. DNA tests revealed that a son who was thought to be conceived by one of her later husbands, who was caught in Afghanistan, was actually Zarqawi’s.
There are many cases of such lost women who were deceived by preachers or recruited via the internet to join fighting organizations in Syria. At the beginning, many commentators said these stories were lies because they were unreasonable. Some said they were part of a propaganda war aimed at distorting the reputation of militant groups there.
However, there is no longer any doubt as there is documented evidence, including videos and information from parents who report their daughters missing. It is thus a must to deal with these facts.
These gatherings of young fighters consider that getting women, whether through the areas they seize or through voluntary recruitment, is only for the purpose of marriage. In fact, it is not marriage in its traditional meaning, but exploitation of young girls. Militants themselves have described it as “sexual jihad.
Given news of ISIS fighters’ scandals regarding women - either by enslaving them or marrying them - some are trying to cleanse the reputation of what is described as “modern jihad.” They do so by saying news of atrocities committed by ISIS are lies, that videos of such atrocities are fake, and that “sexual jihad” is also a fabrication. The aim is to embellish ISIS crimes.
How is it possible to establish a “perfect family” in a war zone, and how would ISIS grant women a home in areas where most houses are destroyed? None of this makes sense, and no sane person would accept it.
We have seen footage of men dragging women like sheep, humans being burnt to death, women and children slain in Iraq, and Egyptian Copts executed in Libya. All this falls within the context of fulfilling the pleasure of murder.
How can we believe that these criminals will establish perfect families with these teenage girls who were deceived into joining them?
The truth is clear: these girls have been recruited for the sake of pleasure, not to fight or to establish perfect families.
Coptic monks scramble to protect ancient monastery
Archaeology News Network
Marking just the latest of a long dispute which arose around a road project threatening to demolish an archaeological site, Coptic monks are literally willing to put their lives on the line. St. Macarius Coptic Monastery in existence since the 4th century faces threat of demolition [Credit: Reuters] According to Fides, the project to build a road that should unite the city of Fayoum to an oasis area crossing the territories around the Coptic monastery of St. Macarius, threatens an archaeological area that stretches around a church dating to the fourth century. Ninety-two kilometers from Cairo, the Monastery of St. Macarius is located in Wadi el-Natrun, the ancient Scetes. In Christian literature, the Scetes refers to one of the three early Christian monastic centers located in the desert of the northwestern Nile Delta. In addition to the monastery itself, the project also threatens its water supply of the monastery and some cultivated areas belonging to it. The monks, in recent days, launched an initiative of non-violent resistance. They lied in the path of bulldozers working on the project, led by workers who approached the monastery lands shouting "Allah Akbar." Coptic Monks lie down in front of bulldozers to protect the ancient Christian site [Credit: Reuters] In the past, the monks submitted various alternative projects to the authorities that would allow the site's historical and natural heritage to be preserved. To encourage the search for alternative solutions, the Coptic Church also established an ad hoc committee for this purpose. In addition, the Ministry of Antiquities expressed its opposition to the project, recommending the archaeological be fully protected. The monastery was founded in 360 A.D. by St. Macarius the Egyptian, a spiritual father to more than 4,000 monks of different nationalities, such as Egyptians, Greeks, Ethiopians, Armenians, Nubians, Asians, Palestinians, Italians, Gauls and Span-lards. Among the monks are men of letters and philosophers, and members of the aristocracy of the time, along with simple illiterate peasants. Since the fourth century, the monastery has been continuously inhabited by monks.
Source: Zenit [February 27, 2015]